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Scooby-Doo Did It
In an trash-strewn alley with Shaggy, SpongeBob, Professor Plum, and Mrs. Peacock.

Why blame lax parenting for kids' fat asses when you can blame television? Sam Hananel writes for the AP that the FCC is hovering around TV as a cause of childhood obesity. Listen to what the FCC Chair-nanny has to say about it:

"Small children can't weed out the marketing messages from their favorite shows," FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said Wednesday at a news conference. "Especially when the marketing campaigns feature favorite TV characters like SpongeBob or Scooby-Doo."

Martin cited reports showing the average child watches 2 to 4 hours of TV per day and views about 40,000 TV ads every year, most of them for cereal, candy, toys and fast food.

Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., said he urged the commission to form the task force, which will include FCC officials, members of the food, television and advertising industries, along with consumer advocacy groups and health experts.

"Judging by the sheer volume of media and advertising that children consume on a daily basis, and given alarming trends in childhood obesity, we're facing a public health problem that will only get worse unless we take action," Brownback said.

The task force will begin meeting early next year and issue a report with recommendations on how industry and media can work to reduce the childhood obesity rate.

Guess what? The three girls in my family weren't fat kids, because we weren't allowed to watch TV. It's call parenting, and it's a form of fascism if you're a kid, and your responsibility if you're an adult who's squeezed out some spawn.

How do these kids get all the junk food, anyway? Do they plant a little remote control in Mommy's brain and steer her away from the veggie aisle at the supermarket?

via Reason

Posted by aalkon at September 29, 2006 10:22 AM

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Heck, the kids can be watching hours of TV and still not get fat...if you don't give them the Krispy Kremes and Pringles to stuff in their craws. I wasn't a very active kid in the 80s - Nickelodeon and MTV had been invented, so there was kid shows all the time; I played on our Atari and Nintendo; and all that failing, I'd read books in my room. And yet I wasn't fat until I went and had three kids in three years (yeah, that'll do some damage). Oh, and I was a master of junk food jingles, which I'd sing while my Ma went grocery shopping. Fruit bars, so good ...and ugly!

So I'm getting tired of people complaining about the kids being prey to marketing and TV being the source of all evil. What's obvious is that the adults around are lardasses themselves, using TV as their own pacifier, with a bag of chips thrown in. The parents don't want to give up their crappy diets, so why is it surprising that the kids are ending up just like mom and dad? It's easier to point to TV than to one's own cupboard.

Posted by: meep at September 29, 2006 3:51 AM

I work next door to a day care center. It's sad to see OBESE TODDLERS.

Too many parents use TV as a quick-and-dirty babysitter for children they're not really interested in minding themselves. I have to admit, I can't blame parents for wanting to get away from the tediousness of their children's company. Cute only goes so far. One yearns for intelligent conversation and wit. That's why I'm childless.

Posted by: Lena at September 29, 2006 9:01 AM

> I can't blame parents for wanting
> to get away from the tediousness
> of their children's company

That is so right. This week I was fascinated by this article:

In passing, it talks about how the (recent) invention of the "traditional family" brought a whole new batch of psychological problems into existence. Back in the day kids weren't sitting around the house, but they weren't spending their days in finishing school, either. If they were old enough to walk they were working the fields or trying to pull some kind of food out of the forest or getting into fights with their third cousins who lived in the next cave.

Parents who let TV babysit their kids are probably the statistical norm. Those who take a conscious, thoughtful hand in crafting their children's souls had to be taught to do so (by their own folks, right?). It's probably not natural behavior.

Posted by: Crid at September 29, 2006 10:25 AM

It's my thinking that what would help families is going back to a modified hunter-gatherer style of child-rearing; ie, it takes a village.

My thought: Have, for example, five families of similar values band together as a child-rearing coalition. One parent stays home each day with the band of kids. The kids are well-socialized playing together, and they're doing things, not sitting passively in front of the set. Yes, parents will have to take vacation days to do this. Boo hoo. You have kids, it's a choice, you pay for that choice. Don't make the rest of us pay for it later when Johnny carjacks us at Ghetto Ralph's. (The neighborhood nickname for the supermarket near us.)

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 29, 2006 10:55 AM

That's a very Berkeley-esque proposal, Amy! You do realize, I presume, that the people most likely to implement your idea would be hairy, overweight women in Birkenstocks.

Posted by: Lena at September 29, 2006 11:10 AM

I am so with that child-rearing village idea! It wears me out to be a full-time mom all the time. I would love to be part of a group of five families who take turns. Of course, this being a scenario involving humans, annoying human foibles come into play-- I find I'm easily stressed-out by other people's kids. I love mine, can't really stand other people's for very long, though. Plus I've met a lot of psycho parents, too.

Maybe I'm just too easily annoyed.

Maybe I need to start investigating my options more thoroughly. ;)

Posted by: Melissa at September 29, 2006 2:30 PM

This may come off as horribly snobbish, but I just find the company of any child under 12 to be laborious and boring. My childed friends assure me that its very different when its your own offspring. To date, I remain unwilling to make that leap of faith.

Posted by: snakeman99 at September 29, 2006 3:01 PM

By any chance, Melissa, are you a hairy overweight women in Birkenstocks?

Posted by: Lena at September 29, 2006 4:28 PM

Sadly, Lena, I'm a svelte, shaved, high-heel wearer. Aha-- that must be what's making my search so difficult! :)

Snakeman99, it is different with your own offspring, but I don't blame you for not wanting to test the hypothesis. For one thing, your kid would eventually socialize with other kids, and bring them into your house. (Aieeee!)

Posted by: Melissa at September 29, 2006 6:26 PM

I've been close to the communal lifestyle, but never quite a committed communard. I still think communal living's the sensible thing to do. The children spend more of their time relating to each other, less relating to one adult (who is driven mad by lack of adult company). In the commune, different adults have different aptitudes. Some are more suited to child care, others to cooking, farming or whatever. Everyone benefits.

Why is it not more common? Why is it only hippies and hairy women that do this? Perhaps people who are freethinking enough to live communally are also able to see through the nonsense peddled by the cosmetics industry.

Good reads: Walden Two, Self Sufficiency.

Posted by: Norman at September 30, 2006 3:26 AM

Melissa -


Posted by: snakeman99 at September 30, 2006 7:54 AM

"Why is it only hippies and hairy women that do this?"

Good question. I was serious about the Berkeley comment. I lived there for 4 years, and I saw a lot of experiments in communal living. What is it called, "homesteading"? I lived just a couple of blocks from Alice Waters' (Chez Panisse) project with a middle school, where she has kids growing vegetables and then harvesting and cooking with them together.

I think a little make-up is a wonderful thing, Norman. And I prefer that men shave before sitting down for breakfast. Maybe that's why I live alone. Happily.

Posted by: Lena at September 30, 2006 8:50 AM

Big Brother can't always be watching, so go ahead and let 'em watch trash. You can't be expected to police your child's every t.v. moment any more than you can keep them from associating with child comrades who are destined to become total psychos. Therefore, make LEMONADE out of those sour lemons!

Why not hook them up to a generator and have them pay for some of that energy they're using WHILE they watch the sugar commercials. If that isn't in your technological grasp, then come up with a point system that equates each hour of t.v. with some kind of physical task that allows mom to take a break from being "maid." Smudgey toilets, dusty windowsills, and expired smelly stuff in the fridge can all be on the "to do" list. The only limit is your imagination. This can please the hairy tree-hugger mumu type as well as the fiscally concerned individual.

This way, you'll have something quite unusual: a child who is actually appreciative that he gets to watch the garbage that's on t.v., and an active little bugger who'll have his or her energy used up so thoroughly that they'll be craving a nice big steak right before that giant bowl of sugar disguised as breakfast floating in milk.

Productivity makes for a happy child. And if not, at least they won't have quadruple chins.

Posted by: Ivana Bite at September 30, 2006 7:08 PM

I think the communal concept of child rearing is actually the way us apes are supposed to do it. You know, the small tribe, the grandparents watching the kids while the parents go hunting and gathering.

It sure beats the desperation I witnessed in my friend's face (the single mom) as she depaired over possibly losing her live in boyfriend, who helps her with the child sittin'.

Posted by: Chris at October 1, 2006 9:33 AM

"Us apes"?

Posted by: Lena at October 2, 2006 5:42 AM

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